Climate Change

Climate Change Policy


The international response to the problem of climate change took its first major step forward with the signing of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. The Convention sets an ultimate objective of stabilizing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions “at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human induced) interference with the climate system.” It states that “such a level should be achieved within a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened, and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.” Among other provisions, the Convention requires industrialized countries to prepare and update inventories of greenhouse gas emissions. 

As its name implies, the UNFCCC was always intended to be a “framework” document — something to be amended over time so that efforts to deal with climate change can be strengthened. The first addition to the treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, was adopted in 1997. It set mandatory targets for greenhouse gas emissions for most industrialized nations, aiming for an overall 5% reduction from 1990 levels. The Clinton Administration signed the Protocol but the Bush Administration withdrew U.S. support. 


The Bush Administration has focused U.S. policy on climate research, development of new technologies, and on voluntary programs to reduce GHG emissions. 

State & Regional Housing

There is growing interest in the United States in state-level actions to address the effects of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. More than 20 states have prepared a state climate action plan.

In residential homes, many states have a processes like Florida which have led to new housing policies being proposed and adopted. Typically, the policies serve multiple purposes such as improving residential air quality, reducing traffic congestion, securing reliable energy supplies, preserving land, or improving waste management, in addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

Climate Change

Climate Change – Impacts

If the magnitude of global warming is consistent with the mid- or upper-range of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) simulations, serious and damaging societal and ecological impacts are likely to result. Higher latitudes are predicted to see greater temperature increases than lower latitudes, especially during winter and spring.

The IPCC predicts rising sea levels, increased rainfall rates and heavy precipitation events (especially over the higher latitudes) and higher evaporation rates that would accelerate the drying of soils following rain events. With higher sea levels, coastal regions could face increased wind and flood damage, and some models predict an increase the intensity of tropical storms.

The long term effects of climate change will be devastating for Floridians who experience hurricanes and typhoons. And it’s especially worse for seniors in nursing homes and locals unable to leave the coastal areas.

Regional and state impacts are harder to predict than large regional or global impacts.  Regional models indicate these possible impacts in Florida:

  • Sea level rise could lead to flooding of low-lying areas, erosion of beaches, loss of coastal wetlands, intrusion of salt water into water supplies, and increased vulnerability of coastal areas to storms and hurricanes.         
  • As climate changes, this could cause some plants and animals to go extinct, some to decline or increase in population, and others migrate to areas with more favorable conditions.  For example, along the coast, fish that need colder temperatures to survive could migrate north, while more tropical varieties could move up the coast into Florida.         
  • Diseases and pests with current tropical ranges could invade Florida, as has West Nile virus and Africanized honey bees in Florida’s panhandle.   
  • Crops and trees that need cooler climates may not grow as well in Florida, while more tropical varieties might do better.             
  • More severe storms and droughts could affect crop production, pests and growth rates.
  • Changes in temp lead to increases to heating and cooling energy usage for residential and commercial homes.

Even if global average temperature increases in the year 2100 are in the lower-range of the IPCC scenarios, the models project ongoing increases in temperatures and sea levels well beyond the end of this century. Thus the eventual impacts may be delayed but not avoided.